As the person who was a co leader of London Export Corporation’s team who concluded the first major commodity sales to China from the USA in April 1972, I give a very warm welcome to the news of a US China trade deal to solve some aspects of the problems between the two nations.
The USA is the world’s largest economy and China is the second largest. Both companies know that repeating history is not a good course. But learning from history is the wise person’s chosen course. Fighting for the premier position is a false fight as all empires have fallen – all 16 major ones in the history of the world. 13 of them violently.
The aspirations of the Icebreakers of 1972 was to develop world peace and create a more fair and globalised world and enable the major economic development of the continent of Asia , comprising over half the worlds population. The leaders of both nations knew that this change for the world was a fine way forward for their peoples, and the peoples of the world.
Nixon and Kissinger sped through the streets of Beijing in February to an amazed world. Mao and Nixon toasted the future watched by Premier Zhou and Henry Kissinger, the architects.
We had been asked back in June 1971 to ready ourselves for sales of cotton, polyester and insecticide. The deals were concluded in April 1972 at the Canton fair – as it was then called. London Export Corporation, founded and led by my father, organised the Icebreaker Mission in 1953 and the formation of the 48 group in 1954.
The deals in 1972 were a fitting moment to recall that my father had been sanctioned by the USA from 1956 to 1971 for doing business with China. As we opened the doors during 1971 the past was let go and Henry Kissinger welcomed our return and visits to our American family in St Louis.
Since that time I have been involved in US China trade for almost 50 years and to large amounts of dollars. Joint Ventures and technology exchanges and trade and investment were all around my life as I regularly travelled the Atlantic and to and from Washington.
Chinese friends helped me as did my dad. We drank the first mao tai toasts in New York and Washington, and visited Disney and the Great Wall. Years of isolation of China were rolled back and people to people contact started through trade.
Many stories were made during that time.
And today the USA trade and investment is so big it scares the USA, who are worried by their success and fear being consumed. China is not a bear seeking to take over the USA. It has too much work of its own to do. China is going to be busy at home for the next 50-75 years at least. After all it took the USA 200 years to form, and China is 6 times the size.
Yes there are problems. That is natural and they need sorting out. But the world cannot go back to a history of conflict marking rising nations. China will rise, in fact has almost risen. The USA prospers from cheap Chinese imports and American sales to China.
The world will have China as one of its centres and that is a huge opportunity for the USA. Some think China can lead and run every sector of commerce. It is beyond any nation. The world is changing fast and the USA and China together can help sustainable development.
It is this hope that burns in my heart – to see Americans and Chinese making trains again but this time on an equal basis and trains to link the world in friendship for young people. Let us not forget the big numbers of Chinese who built the American train lines across America in the middle of the 19th century.
The future is young as I was back in 1972. This is approaching the 50th anniversary of those first deals. So let us celebrate with a genuine commitment to build a better world together.